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  • iRest for Fertility

    by Ellen MacGran

    Each of us has great inner wealth – an abundance of wisdom, joy and peace.  How can we become more present to this in our daily lives?

    After years of exploring meditation practices in search of greater access to this inner treasure, I found Beth Heller’s weekly iRest class at my gym.  The practice brought a deep sense of peace and relaxation from the very beginning.  iRest is short for Integrative Restoration and is based on the ancient practice of yoga nidra.

    As I experienced the benefits of the practice, my commitment deepened and I decided to make iRest a bigger part of my life.  I enrolled in the certification process led by Richard Miller, the developer of the protocol and Beth’s teacher.  Richard, a clinical psychologist and spiritual teacher, has demonstrated the benefits of iRest in numerous clinical studies, showing its effectiveness in addressing various conditions such as PTSD, anxiety and sleep disorders. Participants using the iRest protocol have reported many benefits including decreased insomnia, reduced depression and anxiety, improved interpersonal relationships and a greater sense of ease in daily life.

    In the two-hour workshop at Pulling Down the Moon, you will receive a brief history and overview of the iRest protocol, and a 60-minute iRest practice session giving participants a real sense of the practice’s power.  Bringing this practice to your community, which is already committed to holistic health and well-being, is an honor and a privilege.

    Here’s what to expect from an iRest practice:

    • The practice is done lying down in a comfortable position on a yoga mat, with blankets and bolsters to support your body
    • The teacher will guide you through an exploration of your physical body, breath and thought patterns
    • The process is deeply relaxing and restorative – and you may even fall asleep!
    • Perfect for folks who think they can’t meditate
    • The practice is a wonderful way for partners to share a program of relaxation together
    • iRest has been shown to reduce the severity of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in military vets.  Experiences like miscarriage, child loss and even failed cycles can create lasting emotional scars and iRest can help manage and release these negative experiences.

    Learn more about iRest research here.

    iRest and Fertility

    Click to register for the free iRest workshop at Pulling Down the Moon workshop on September 26 1-3 p.m.

    I look forward to the workshop on Saturday, September 26.


  • Postdiluvian PDtM – A Flood Update

    My horoscope for July 24 read:

    “Gigantic waves of slowly unfolding change reach the shores of our awareness today as expansive Jupiter forms a stressful, yet creative, square with transformational Pluto.”

    Do ya think?  I awoke at 6 a.m. the morning of July 24 to multiple messages on my cell phone from our Ops manager Bill Sviatko with news that the Chicago River had overflowed its banks and flooded our River North Center at 3 a.m. on Saturday morning.  When I called him back he sounded good, things were under control, and they’d been wet-vacuuming since building security called him at 3 a.m.  We should be ready for patients by 8 a.m.

    As I hopped in the car I was annoyed that a precious Saturday morning with my family was about to be sabotaged by work.  Little did I know that by the time I would arrive at the Moon, 200+ flood relief workers would be swarming the river walk, with the devastating news that due to water damage our space (and that of our doctor partners next door at FCI) would have to be completely refurbished…to the tune of several months of work.  Suddenly what started as an intrusion into my Saturday morning had morphed into – what did my horoscope call it? – gigantic waves of slowly unfolding change?  A few minutes later my business partner Tami Quinn rolled in with her husband Brian.  Now Tami and I have shared many things – and potentially even many lives – together, but this was disaster on a biblical scale!

    We had 15 patients on the book for the next day…many preparing for an IVF or IUI who absolutely needed to be seen.  By 8 a.m. we were asking ourselves whether it was too early to call the OBGyn practice upstairs ( Northwestern Specialists for Women ) to see if we could live with them for at least a few days.  Amazingly, their Operations Manager picked up her cell phone when I called and said that her doctors would be happy to help us out during the transition.  Tami and I then took off looking for temporary space where the Moon could live on a longer-term basis since the news from the river walk was getting grimmer by the moment.  No contamination, but a whole lot of water damage that would require remediation.  Much of our earthly possessions were lost, too!

    Our earthly possessions out on the River Walk post-flood

    Sunday  morning we saw all of our patients without a  hitch – if you are looking for an OB you should really check out their beautiful offices and wonderful docs – in the NSW space .  The doctors and staff at NSW graciously hosted us for a full week!   During that time we frantically searched for a temporary space and ended up with an urban loft in River North – and feverishly set about giving our community a new home at 216 W. Ohio, just blocks from the Brown and Red line, with cheap parking next door and a lot of potential to be fun and funky.

    Potential is one thing, achieving that potential is another all together.  Unfortunately, the week following the flood I had to leave for vacation with my family on a 10 day odyssey to California that had been planned for months.  Despite all the drama, Tami (my amazing business partner) insisted I go.

    We spend a lot of time at the Moon teaching our students and patients to try to stay in the present moment and not project their fears and emotions onto the future.  Going on vacation was just about the last thing I felt like doing in the midst of all that was happening at the Moon.  For this reason, my time away was a practice in several basic yoga tenets.   Since holding on to the Moon’s turmoil would have been entirely unproductive, I chose specific, limited times during the week to check my email and Tami and I spoke by phone just two times.  Between these periods of contact I used breath and meditation to watch myself panic and observe all the doom scenarios that my mind wanted to project onto the future.  It wouldn’t be honest to say that I didn’t experience true waves of panic – but I did choose to trust that the universe would support Pulling Down the Moon and help us not only survive this disaster but grow and learn in the process.  I was blessed by the amazing dedication of the staff and my trust in Tami.  I also knew that when I returned I would need to be “on” 200%!  So, I focused on my family, my yoga and giving myself some pure time off.

    Imagine my surprise when I got home…This is what I found:

    Beautiful, urban-hip temporary digs

    Gorgeous urban-hip loft space…Thank you, thank you, thank you to all PDtM staff and practitioners who worked so hard to make this happen!

    If you haven’t visited our temporary offices we hope you will come in for a class, a treatment or a free seminar.  If you’re a current patient or student who loves Pulling Down the Moon and our community, please tell a friend about us.   Obviously our specialty is fertility and pregnancy, but our practitioners are incredibly gifted and can treat pain, digestive issues, PMS, migraines, and other chronic health problems.

    As we continue to make adjustments to our temporary home, our chant is truly WE ARE HAPPY, WE ARE HEALTHY, WE ARE HOLY.  And, we are grateful for all the patience and support we have received from patients and students who love our community as much as we do!  Shanti, Beth

    Natural light and exposed brick invite peace

    Jenny and Bill welcome patients to our new nest

  • Cleaning Up Everyday Toxicity

    Margaret Wertheim M.S., R.D., L.D.N.

    by Margaret Wertheim, MS RD LDN

    Here at Pulling Down the Moon, in addition to optimizing your diet, we also look at the bigger picture of your total lifestyle and how it may be affecting your chances of conception. Many items that you use every day can be a source of toxic chemicals that could negatively impact your fertility, such as plastic water bottles and food containers, personal care products, and household cleaners to name a few. Bisphenol A (BPA), specifically, has been getting lots of bad press recently as more studies show its detrimental health effects such as possible increased risk for breast and prostate cancers and hyperactivity according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

    BPA is a chemical used in certain types of plastic, including food containers, which is an  estrogen mimic, meaning that in our bodies Bisphenol A acts like estrogen does. Estrogen is, of course, an important hormone in women’s health and fertility, however estrogen dominance is associated with increased risk for ovarian and breast cancers, endometriosis, and uterine fibroids. A study in the journal Human Reproduction found that exposure to Bisphenol A was associated with recurrent miscarriage. Another study noted that higher levels of BPA in the blood were associated with increased risk for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Furthermore, BPA may negatively impact male fertility by causing the creation of reactive oxygen species according to another study. Given the mounting evidence against BPA in the areas of hormone balance and fertility, it is wise to keep BPA exposure as low as possible.

    Follow these tips to phase BPA out of your life for better overall health and fertility:

    • Make sure all water bottles you drink out of state that they are “BPA free.” Stainless steel water bottles are preferable to plastic, but you still must make sure the bottles are “BPA free,” because sometimes metal bottles are lined with BPA.
    • Use a stainless steel lined travel mug for carrying hot beverages. Avoid plastic lined cups.
    • Never microwave your food in plastic. Invest in glass food containers for reheating leftovers.
    • Avoid putting food in any polycarbonate plastic containers with the #7 inside of the recycle symbol.
    • Minimize intake of canned foods. The lining of cans contains BPA which is capable of leaching into the food. Some companies including Trader Joe’s and Eden foods do use some BPA-free cans, but not across the board.


    1.  Sugiura-Ogaswara M, Ozaki Y, Shin-ichi S, Makino T, Suzumori K (2007). Exposure to bisphenol A is associated with recurrent miscarriage. Human Reproduction . 20:8:2325-2329.

    2.  Ooe H, Taira T, Iguchi-Ariga SMM, Ariga H (2005). Induction of Reactive Oxygen Species by Bisphenol A and

    3. Abrogation of Bisphenol A-Induced Cell Injury by DJ  Toxicological Sciences . 88(1), 114-126.

    4.  Takeuchi T, Tsutsymi O, Ikezuki Y, Takai Y (2004). Positive Relationship between Androgen and the Endocrine Disruptor, Bisphenol A, in Normal Women and Women with Ovarian Dysfunction.  Endocrine Journal . 51(2):165-169.